Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have you been a prospect lately?

I was reading a trade magazine the other day and came across an interesting article. The magazine was for catalog marketing; tips, techniques, trends, etc. One of the central ideas they focused on was "Have you been a customer today?" Their idea was a wonderful one. We get so wrapped up in day to day work, we forget to look at what our marketing program looks like from a STUDENT'S perspective.

That raised an interesting question in my mind. How does YOUR institution handle prospective students? From the time a you start a campaign and a lead comes in, whether by mail, phone call, web site, social media. How is that lead handled? Who touches the lead? What is sent to them? How is this prospect treated, classified (hot, warm or cold lead)? And how is your staff interfacing with these prospects (if they are at all)?

In addition to the above questions, is your website easy to navigate? I have visited many clients and prospect's websites. Some websites are complicated to use AND the only way you can get any detailed program information is to contact the Office of Admissions. Make it easy for prospects to see exactly what they are getting for their education. Not only program information, but social activities, athletics, not as individual discussions (ie: one section for athletics, another for classes, yet another for community information), but how they all relate to the Higher Education experience! Here are some key thoughts for you to consider:

1) At least once a month, sign on to your website. Your goal is to see what it looks like, read the content again, is it attractive to prospective students and check all of your links, page connections to make sure they still work.

2) Fill out forms! Do they work?

3) Read your website as if you're a prospect. As someone with NO knowledge of your school. Does your website make sense? Is it inviting? Are answers there for even the most basic questions?

4) What does your website say about YOUR institution? Is the copy, approach and content different for adult students when compared to high school students? And how easy is it to find key information regarding admissions?

5) Are you using texting and/or social media in a way that your prospects use these services?

Following these five tips can help you focus on what's important, getting more students to register and ATTEND your institution. So many times we overlook the basics and worry more about the trees than the forest. Remember, attending a college or university is exciting, frightening, intense, fun and fulfilling if the match is right. The initial contact you make, just like meeting someone face to face for the first time, is a lasting impression. If they don't like how you interface with them either via mail, phone, website, texting, blogging, you will never get them as a student.

The idea of a mystery shopper can be applied to checking how YOUR admissions recruitment is done. Market Mapping plus LLC can set up a program to contact your institution for more information. Once that contact is initiated, we will follow all future contact's to see how you are doing. Did you send the requested information? How long did it take to receive that information? Were there follow-up contacts in a way that the prospect wanted to be contacted? All done with a full report at the end of the study. We will also evaluate how easy your website is to navigate, and provide suggestions on how to improve your website with copy suggestions, reorgainzation of key elements or a change in approach. Whatever is necessary to help you become more "prospect friendly" in this age of information.

In the words of Ron Popeil, don't "set it and forget it"! Keep in touch with your systems, your image and your outside contact points in order to keep up to date, functional and effective.

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